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Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles

Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles

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by Cook's Illustrated Magazine, Daniel J. van Ackere (Photographer), Judy Love (Illustrator), Christopher Kimball (Preface by)

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How do you boil pasta? How much water and salt do you need? Should you add oil to the water? How well should you drain it? (Turn to page viii for the answers.)

One part cooking course, one part kitchen reference, and one part foolproof recipes, The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles tells the story of flour and water like no other book on the market.


How do you boil pasta? How much water and salt do you need? Should you add oil to the water? How well should you drain it? (Turn to page viii for the answers.)

One part cooking course, one part kitchen reference, and one part foolproof recipes, The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles tells the story of flour and water like no other book on the market. Extensively covering the basics of pasta and noodles, this thoroughly researched and taste-tested guide is dedicated to the home cook who needs practical advice on everything from penne to pad thai. The experts at Cook's Illustrated present their knowledge and techniques in a hands-on way so that each and every step of the cooking process can be understood and easily executed. The authors leave room for interpretation and taste, of course, but you will not walk away from this book without knowing which olive oil to buy, why egg pastas tend to complement cream sauces, or how to mince garlic.

The book is arranged in four sections, exploring first dried semolina pasta, then fresh Italian-style pasta, Mediterranean pasta and European dumplings, and finally, Asian noodles. There are thirteen chapters devoted to sauces alone, and recipes are included with the type of pasta with which they work best — from the simplest to the complex, but all within reach of the home cook. As a bonus, the book includes excellent photographs of the various pasta and noodle shapes, and impeccable illustrations clearly depict each step of key techniques. Special sections are devoted to such specific topics as "Are Electric Pasta Machines Worth the Money?" and "A Guide to Popular Cheeses."

"Cook's has always been the definitive word on any subject it tackles," says The Post and Courier, and The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles will serve as the definitive reference volume for pasta lovers.

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Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony
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7.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

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Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Pancetta
The pancetta can make this sauce a bit salty, so add salt lightly. This sauce is hearty enough to stand up to some grated pecorino cheese. serves 4.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 pound penne or other short, tubular pasta
½ cup grated pecorino cheese

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil, the pancetta, and the onion in a medium sauté pan over medium heat until the onion is softened and the pancetta is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes; simmer until somewhat thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and salt to taste.

2. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and transfer it back to the cooking pot. Mix in the reserved cooking water, sauce, remaining tablespoon of oil, and cheese. Divide among 4 pasta bowls and serve immediately.


Pasta Salad with Vinaigrette
serves 6 to 8
broccoli and olives are used in this basic pasta salad. If you prefer, increase the hot red pepper flakes or replace them with a few grindings of black pepper.

3 pounds broccoli (about 2 small bunches), florets cut into bite-size pieces

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound short, bite-size pasta, such as fusilli, farfalle, or orecchiette
20 large black olives, such as Kalamata or other brine-cured variety, pitted and chopped
15 large fresh basil leaves, shredded

1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Cook the broccoli until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Don't drain the water.

2. Whisk the lemon zest and juice, ¾ teaspoon salt, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl; whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until smooth.

3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until the pasta is al dente and drain. Whisk the dressing again to blend; add the hot pasta, cooled broccoli, olives, and basil; toss to mix thoroughly. Cool to room temperature, adjust the seasonings, and serve. (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 day; return to room temperature before serving.)


Stir-Fried Chinese Noodles with Pork, Bok Choy, Mushrooms, and Sprouts

Bok choy stalks take much longer to soften than the tender greens, so separate them while slicing the bok choy (see illustrations 1-3) and add each part to the pan at the appropriate time. The dried mushrooms will need to soak for about 20 minutes, so plan accordingly. serves 4.

¾ pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and shredded
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dry sherry
12 ounces dried Chinese wheat or fresh egg noodles (the width of spaghetti)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
½ cup chicken stock or low-sodium canned broth
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons very finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 pound bok choy, stalks and greens separated and sliced thin
5 dried Chinese black mushrooms or dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in 2 cups hot water until softened, strained, and finely chopped
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2 tablespoons minced scallions, white parts only
1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot (see illustrations 1-3, page 43)

1. Toss the pork with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and  tablespoon sherry in a medium bowl; set aside and toss once or twice as you work on the rest of the recipe.

2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the noodles and salt and boil until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh noodles and 7 to 9 minutes for dried. Drain thoroughly and toss with ½ teaspoon sesame oil.

3. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce,
remaining 4 teaspoons sherry, remaining ½ teaspoon sesame oil, the light soy sauce, stock, sugar, red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon garlic in a small bowl; set aside.

4. Heat a 12- or 14-inch nonstick skillet over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. (The pan should be so hot you can hold an outstretched hand 1 inch over the pan for only 3 seconds; see illustration, page 388.) Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl the oil so that it evenly coats the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil until it just starts to shimmer and smoke.

5. Drain the pork and add to the pan. Stir-fry until seared, about 2 minutes. Scrape the cooked pork and all the liquid into a clean bowl. Cover and keep warm.

6. Let the pan come back up to temperature, 1 to 2 minutes. When hot, drizzle in 2 teaspoons oil. When the oil just starts to smoke, add the bok choy stalks. Stir-fry until just tender-crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bok choy greens, mushrooms, and bean sprouts and stir-fry an additional 30 seconds.

7. Clear the center of the pan and add the scallions, remaining tablespoon garlic, and ginger. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Mash into the pan with the back of a spatula. Cook until fragrant but not colored, about 10 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the scallions, garlic, and ginger into the vegetables for 20 seconds.

8. Return the pan to the heat and add the cooked pork and noodles. Stir in the sauce and stir-fry until the ingredients are well coated with sauce and sizzling hot, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

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Cook's Illustrated is one of today's most respected culinary magazines. It is based in Boston, Massachusetts.

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The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
twiggyann More than 1 year ago
I've had this book for a few years now.  There are plenty of great recipes for pasta dishes, as well as a number of recipes for fresh pasta.  Unlike the other reviewer, I didn't find the fresh pasta recipe with 3 eggs to be "eggy" but then again, I often make a yolk based dough that calls for 4 cups of flour, 4 eggs, and 6 egg yolks.   As with all books put out by America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated, I've yet to find a bad recipe.    
VT802 More than 1 year ago
This is a thick book, no color photos, some random black and white sketches here and there explain some steps of recipes. If you are looking for a book that's all about how to make fresh pasta, this isn't the book. The first 30 pages contain common knowledge info about types of pasta, cooking times, and maybe 10-15 pages with recipes for fresh egg pasta and semolina pasta. The rest of the book is just a cookbook with pasta in every recipe and some of the recipes they have look pretty good. Also, unfortunately there's no info about making soba, rice noodles, or ramen but there are recipes for using store bought Asian noodles. As a cook in many restaurants for more than 10 years now, I find a lot of these recipes to be bland and occasionally contradictory in method to the way I've done things for years with successful results. Example: Their recipe for egg pasta calls for 3 eggs and after making it their way I found it to taste like a mouthful of eggs with every bite. I've always made it with 2 eggs and thought maybe they had a different approach/taste they preffered but in the end I cant see anyone wanting a plate full of pasta that tastes like scrambled eggs. So if you want a book that is a gentle introduction to homemade pasta making but 95% an Italian pasta recipe book then this is for you. If you want something strictly for making pasta, look elsewhere.